by Elli Bishop
As you make plans to visit the beach, go hiking in the mountains, or take a road trip, consider your home’s safety before you go. Burglars prefer to target homes that look empty because it makes the process easier for them. With that in mind, it’s important to make it look like your home is occupied while you’re gone. Along with all the other items on the “to-do” list before you go out of town, don’t forget these five steps for securing your home:
1. Hold Your Mail
A pile of unopened mail and unread newspapers announces to a would-be burglar that your home is empty and ready for intruders. Before you go out of town, call your local post office and ask them to hold your mail. Alternatively, you can even do it online at USPS.com. You’ll also want to call your newspaper service to stop delivery until you return.
2. Trick Potential Intruders
Make it look like someone’s home when you’re out having fun. Here are some ways to outsmart crooks:
- Time lights and electronics. You can time your lights, television, and other electronics to turn on and off throughout the day. You want your lights to look natural, as if someone’s home. Avoid leaving your lights on the entire time you are gone. This will not only increase your electric bill, but it’s also suspicious, since most people don’t leave lights on all the time when they’re home.
- Hire a landscaper. If you’re going to be out of town for a week or more, hire someone to mow your lawn and trim your hedges, so it looks like someone’s around and doing the yard work.
- Have a neighbor park out front. Tell a trustworthy neighbor when you’re going to be out of town, and ask them to park a car in front of your house to make it look like someone’s home.
3. Ask Neighbors to Keep an Eye Out
Friendly neighbors can be an important line of defense against intruders. Tell your neighbors how long you’ll be gone and ask them to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity at your house. If your neighbors know you’re gone, then if they see or hear someone at your home, they will know something is probably amiss and they can contact the authorities.
4. Avoid Social Media
While it may be tempting to share photos on Facebook or tweet about your airport adventures, consider holding off on vacation-related posts. Those you are connected to online are typically your friends, but you never know when your information will get into the wrong hands. A friend of a friend may see your status update and know that your home is vulnerable. Double-check your safety and security settings on social media, and consider waiting to post about your adventures until you get back.
5. Nix the Spare Key
If your home is being targeted, the first thing a criminal will look for is a spare key. He will look in the standard places: a conspicuous plastic rock, under the mat, or above the door. Putting a spare key in an easy-to-spot location is like handing your keys over to an intruder. If you’re going on vacation, think about removing the spare key all together until you are home, or leave a key with a neighbor.
If you take precautions before going on vacation, then you can relax instead of worrying about the state of your home while you’re gone. For additional home safety and travel tips, visit SafeWise.com. If you have additional tips for keeping your home safe while on vacation, please share in the comments!
Elli Bishop is a writer for SafeWise.com - a website that helps you make your home and community safe through their safety resources and honest reviews of safety and security products.